The Vow is a nine-episode documentary series that intimately tells the story of the rise and fall of the NXIVM cult. Directed by Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer, the series premiered in August 2020 and features real footage from the cult’s activities alongside several interviews with former NXIVM members. The exposé offers a nuanced perspective on the insidious nature of the cult and its leader, Kieth Raniere, who was convicted of sex trafficking and racketeering, among other charges.
The Vow was produced by HBO Documentary Films, HBO’s in-house documentary unit. Each episode runs for about an hour and you can find them all on HBO Max.
What streaming services have The Vow?
The Vow was produced by HBO Documentary Films, so the only place it’s available for free is HBO Max. Because it was done in-house, it’s unlikely to leave the service any time soon.
If you’re not interested in subscribing to HBO Max, you can also purchase the show on Amazon Prime Video. There is no option to rent the show, but you can choose between buying in standard definition and high definition.
Streaming services that offer The Vow compared
|HBO Max||Hulu (with HBO Max add-on)||Youtube TV (with HBO add-on)||Amazon Prime Video|
|Base Price per Month||$14.99||$14.99||$94.98||Not included in Prime membership — episodes can be purchased starting at $1.99/episode or $16.99 for all of season one.|
|# of Simultaneous Streams||3||2||3||N/A|
The most direct way to watch The Vow is on HBO Max, but you can also do so on Hulu and Youtube TV if you have an HBO add-on to your subscription. If you simply want to purchase the show without doing any subscribing, you can do that on Amazon Prime, which gives you the option to purchase episodes individually or the entire season at once.
Can you watch The Vow for free?
Technically, no. All ways of watching The Vow require either a subscription or a one-time payment. The most cost effective way to watch The Vow is either with an HBO Max subscription or Hulu + HBO Max subscription, both of which cost $14.99/month.
What is The Vow about?
The Vow is a true crime docu-series about NXIVM (pronounced Nexium), an American cult headquartered near Albany, New York. NXIVM was founded in 1998 by Keith Raniere and operated until Raniere was arrested and indicted on sex trafficking charges in March 2018.
The Vow is centered on the stories of former cult members who eventually left NXIVM and were willing to share stories of their indoctrination and abuse. The show features emotional testimonies of Sarah Edmondson, Catherine Oxenberg (whose daughter was involved with NXIVM), Mark Vicente, Bonnie Piesse, Anthony Ames, Barbara Bouchey, Susan Dones, and Toni Natalie. The show also features the journalists who initially broke the story, investigative journalist Frank Parlato and New York Times reporter Barry Meier.
In addition to interviews and retellings, the show heavily features original footage of Raniere and NXIVM meetings, shot by Mark Vicente in an attempt to document Raniere’s life for future generations.
Upcoming seasons for The Vow
Watching the Vow is especially exciting because the story is still unfolding. In October 2020, HBO renewed the series for a second season, which will focus on Keith Raniere’s trial that took place in 2019. It will also take a deeper dive into his circle of ongoing supporters, which at one point included Mexican elites, like the son of the former Mexican president, Emiliano Salinas.
The second season is scheduled to debut sometime in 2021, but an exact date hasn’t been set yet.
Best Way to Watch The Vow
If you drop in anywhere, you’re likely to be disturbed by NXVIM’s destructive path through the lives of so many people. However, the best way to watch The Vow is chronologically. You’ll be taken through the indoctrination process as so many of the victims were — watching happy beginnings and promises of a better life morph into an abusive, toxic chokehold that felt impossible to escape.
The Guardian astutely called The Vow “darkly compelling… hard to shake.” It’s easy to say you would never fall prey to a cult, but watching the story unfold from start to finish makes it easier to understand how insidious cults can be.